Rafael Nadal’s winning streak now stands at 10 wins but will face it’s toughest task so far on Thursday evening when he plays the 16th seed Nick Kyrgios. The match on paper looks to be one of the standouts of the tournament and it comes as a shame to be scheduled this early in the tournament.
Nadal’s sets streak ended on Wednesday after he needed three to beat Fabio Fognini, coming out on top 6-4 in the decider. Having failed to serve out at 5-3, Nadal could have made things difficult for himself but managed to break right back for the match to avoid slugging it out at 5-5. “I think that even though I played really badly, my attitude has been very positive,” Nadal said on his performance. “My attitude and the will to win today’s match was there. My level of tennis was not so high today, but I managed to make it through.
Kyrgios famously announced himself on the scene in 2014 with a Wimbledon victory over Nadal, winning in four sets. He has made it a habit of troubling the top players on a regular basis with wins over the Spaniard, Roger Federer, Stanislas Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic. That includes two straight sets victories over the Serbian, with his outstanding serving playing a huge part. Wins over Ryan Harrison and Marcos Baghdatis have got him this far but he will need another victory to match his quarter final run from last year.
Nadal recognises the threat of Kyrgios and they did go 3 in their only meeting on clay last year. Kyrgios won a first set tie break before losing 6-4 in the third set at Rome last year. ““He’s a very difficult opponent, he’s one of the most difficult players you can play. It’s true that I think on clay he’s a very, very tough player… I have to play really well to be able to beat him.” he said. It wouldn’t be a major shock if Kyrgios were to take a set, especially given Madrid’s conditions are well suited for the Aussie with his aforementioned wins over Federer and Wawrinka coming at this tournament.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in three sets